December 2003 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 200
Rejected: 180 Approved: 20 Selected: 4
We have a tradition at Wine of the Month Club, a sparkling and dessert wine for the Holidays and we believe all of these selections will make great gifts as well as grace any Holiday table on any budget.
We are making a commitment: Your Holiday dining and gift giving selections will be shipped on time.
Once we tried the Disco Volatile Late Harvest Zinfandel we were hooked. There's probably no better way to describe it than just plain delicious. If you like bold, rich and concentrated grape flavors you're gonna love this wine.
Our amazing Carousel Classique sparkling wine was a hit when we
featured it several years ago. This one is better than ever. It continues to be one of the best sparkling values we've ever seen.
Iron Horse has been a favorite winery of ours for some 20 years. Their Classic Cuvee Brut is about as good as it gets.
This is what great bubbles are all about. Toast in the new year with this beauty and it will be a night to remember.
The perfect end to the perfect meal can only signal that Rayons du Soleil Muscatel is on its way.
Here is a classic Muscat, offering a veritable fruit basket of flavors and a walloping finish.
Quantities are limited on all of these. Don't delay.
Both of our dessert selections this month come from Arciero Winery in Paso Robles. Each section will feature a different part of the winery's incredible story.
Nearly every man achieves a certain degree of success in a lifetime. Some are born to success; for others, it is the result of long hours and hard work. Success for the Arciero family has been one of those great "rags to riches" stories with a lot of hard work and deter¬mination between the hard times and the good times.
Frank and Phil Arciero came to this country from Italy in 1939. Frank was four-teen; Phil was ten; nei¬ther of them spoke a word of English. They first settled in Detroit, Michigan. Frank worked as a laborer digging ditches while Phil attended school.
Their father, Giovanni, had come to the U.S.A. in 1914, but the family remained in
Italy until their father was able to relocate them to America.
By 1948, Frank and Phil had moved to California, worked initially as laborers, then began a small cement contracting business. It was the success of this busi¬ness that was to be the catalyst for all of the future Arciero busi-ness activities. Working long hours with good manage-ment, the original con¬crete firm (Arciero Brothers) has since become one of the largest in California. In addition to the con¬crete business, the Arciero enterprises include commercial, industrial, and resi¬dential construction, auto racing as well as farming operations in the south central val¬ley of California.
Paso Robles is home to many of the oldest Zinfandel vines in the state. Most of the grapes in our selection came from vines that were planted over 100 years ago.
These old vines
produce less than half the grapes of the younger ones, yet the intensity is much greater. That intensity is obvious from the first sip.
Because of the richness and higher alcohol, we recom¬mend you drink this wine as you would a great vintage Port. A little goes a long way, so plan on small pours.
Rich, extracted raspberry and blueberry flavors. Big and heady to be served with fresh fruit or chocolate.
Carousel Classique is named after the great equestrian feast which takes place year¬ly at the world famous French Cavalry school at Saumur near the Loire River.
This wine is pro¬duced by the famous Bercut-Vandervoort wine family. Bercut¬Vandervoort began as a shared dream. The Company was found¬ed in 1946 as a partner¬ship between Pierre Bercut (1884-1972), a San Francisco busi-nessman and Henry J. Van Der Voort, born in 1915 at Chateau Bellegrave in the Pauillac region.
The Company's aim was to bring to America the best French wines avail¬able. They thrived steadily for nearly 40 years until Hugues de Vernou decided to add a wholesale wine divi¬sion to his prosperous "Village Imports" Company, importers of
fine foods. This wine division became the exclusive California distributor for the wines of Bercut-¬Vandervoort & Co. and in 1997, Hugues de Vernou purchased the Company from the Vandervoort family, bringing youth and new vigor to this ven¬erable Company in every category.
Today, Bercut-Vandervoort is larger and stronger than ever before, and the Company's efforts
have expanded and intensified with rewarding results. From great Chateaux such as "La Gardine", "Beauregard", "Bellegrave Vandervoort", and "Trocard" to the world renown "Dampierre" Champagnes, "Veuve Amiot" Sparkling wines, "Kendemanns" and "Havemeyer" German wines to their increasingly pop¬ular "Le Carré" brand, Bercut-Vandervoort
offers an outstanding selection of superior quality wines, most of them exclusively imported.
Our Carousel is produced from 100% Chardonnay, making it comparable to other premium wines cost¬ing much more. We think it's a winner.
Beautiful pale yellow with finite size bubbles and lots of joyous activity.
Full and explosive in the mouth offering hints of green apple, Asian pear and quince.
An absolutely perfect accompaniment to the smoked salmon appetizer recipe on page 13.
Limited Series Selection
Barry and Audrey Sterling had searched for a winery site in Europe for seven years. Upon their return to the United States, they resumed their quest in Sonoma County. In spite of first viewing Iron Horse in a driving rainstorm and the partially developed condition of the prop¬erty, the Sterlings quickly recognized it was precisely what they had sought for so long. As the former Vineyard Manager, Forrest Tancer, took them around the property.
They instantly appreciated his viti¬cultural knowledge, his dedication to the land and his desire to see Iron Horse devel¬oped into a premier California vineyard. Within a few weeks in early 1976, the purchase of Iron Horse
was made and Forrest Tancer agreed to con¬tinue as Vineyard Manager, eventually becoming a partner in the winery and then a son-in-law.
Iron Horse sparkling and still wines have tradition¬ally been served at White House state dinners and events going back three administrations. The Reagans chose Iron Horse for the historic summit meetings with Gorbachev in Washington, D.C. and Geneva. George Bush selected Iron Horse Vintage Brut for the signing of the START treaty in Moscow and the Clintons contin¬ued the tradition serv-ing Iron Horse at the summit meeting with Boris Yeltsin. The Executive Residence also served Iron Horse at their gala 2000 New Years Eve Millennium party.
Our selection is made from the classic French recipe of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir is crushed and immediately removed from the skins so that the juice retains its naturally light color. Though the color is light, Pinot Noir adds body and richness that no other white grape can.
Classic Brut, 1998
Lovely, pale yellow color with very small, but lots of bubbles. Full and rich yeasty flavors followed by a gener¬ous helping of green apple and a touch of toastiness. Great with oysters, smoked salmon or caviar.
Limited Series Selection
The Arciero fam¬ily has, for gen¬erations, always had close ties to the land...pressing olives for oil and grapes for wine in their native Italy. The completion of the family winery and Estate Vineyards in Paso Robles, California is a family dream and tradition come true.
The Arciero Estate Vineyards are located in the heart of the Paso Robles viticultural area within the Central Coast region. Frank, Sr. fell in love with the Paso Robles area, as the rolling hills reminded him of his hometown in Italy, and in 1983, he began planting grapes here. The Estate Vineyards are planted with ten varieties in three large blocks totaling over 700 acres. The vine¬yards are situated about six miles east of Paso Robles, with one ranch stretching two miles along Highway 46 East. The Arciero
Estate Vineyards are planted on well-drained calcareous soil of a clay loam composition.
The winery itself, a 104,000-square foot facility, accomplishes a masterful fusion of modern technology and hand-craftsman¬ship into winemaking. The cellars are under¬ground, built into a hillside in order to keep the barrel-aging area cool and conserve energy. The facility boasts a production capacity of 400,000 cases (952,000 gallons) and is modeled after Montecassino, a for¬mer Monastery near the Arciero's home vil¬lage in Italy. Arciero Winery, with its 6,000-square foot Visitors' Center and five acre landscaped rose gar¬den, fountain and pic¬nic area, is often referred to as the Central Coast's "Most Magnificent Estate Winery."
This selection is sim¬ilar in style to the great Muscats of the
This wines is quite sweet and imposing. A two ounce pour is usually enough unless your guests can't get enough of this elixir. It's a common prob¬lem.
Northern Rhone, Muscat des Beaume de Venise. Offers all the rich lusciousness and vibrant fruit fla¬vors we have come to love in this wine.
Rayons du Soleil
Scents of ripe apricot and white peach abound. The same flavors carry through to the mouth and introduce a plethora of extracts including coconut and almond. Great with cookies.
"Paul, when were wine
labels first used and
what kinds of informa-
¬tion is typically on
S.D., Portland, OR
Printed labels began appearing on bottles around the beginning of the 19th Century as paper and printing became more common. Before then, the names of the wineries and importers were usually stenciled on the bottles.
Don't forget, most wines back then were sold in cask. Only the wealthy could afford them because glass and printing was a lot more expensive than it is now.
Explaining what goes on a label is a bit more difficult. It really depends on which coun¬try you're in. The U.S. requires that the country
of origin, alcohol, size and government warn¬ing appear on the label. Anything else, like spe¬cific vineyard, state, etc., is up to the producer, although if they put that on the label, they may have to prove that they are correct.
Most of Europe have no laws requiring bottle size and alcohol, though if it's on the label, it has to be correct.
The same goes for place of origin, although
Europe is much pickier than the U.S.
Most of the wines there are labeled after the place of origin, so the grapes are pretty much a default based on the place. If a white wine is labeled as Burgundy it must be made from Chardonnay. The reds from Pinot Noir. If it's labeled Barolo it can only be made from Nebbiolo.
They don't put the grape on the label so you may have to take a wine class to find out which grapes go into which wines.
German wines must carry lab analysis num¬bers as well.